Apartment Hunting in San Francisco

Everything we heard and read about the San Francisco rental market wasn’t good. There was a general consensus of limited dwellings at insane prices. Coming from a major city which is almost three times the size, we thought that this might have been overblown. It wasn’t.

I was doing my best to set-up viewings remotely, while my main man Matt was on the ground ready to go check them out in person. He would have all necessary documents on hand just in case he found our new digs.

I reached out to dozens of places using everything from Padmapper to Apartment List and was met with a 60% response rate. The most common responses I received to this outreach was the work of scam artists. Once I identified the first scammer, it became pretty easy to call out others from there.

Here are a few of the common things to look out for:

  1. Formatting issues and spelling mistakes in emails from excessive copying and pasting.
  2. Complete disregard for specific questions in email inquiries.
  3. Stock photos.
  4. Unable to see apartment prior to required move in date.
  5. Demand for deposit in advance of seeing place with promises of full refund if dissatisfied upon viewing.
  6. Calls from Skype/Google numbers.
  7. Request to wire deposits with re-directs.

I had one ‘landlord’ accidentally forward me part of another email from a person calling them out on a scam. Crazy.



Private listings that are legit tend to have a scheduled open house for viewings. Everything I’ve read encourages apartment seekers to have common application documents and a deposit on hand when visiting. In San Francisco it’s the law that a landlord must rent to the first eligible applicant, so it’s a game of first come, first serve.

I set-up one appointment and Matt met a rental agent on site. While the apartment wasn’t for us, it was nice working with a ‘scam-free’ professional. She recommended we check out a brand new building located right across from Twitter HQ.

One visit the NEMA website and we knew we HAD to check it out in person. The pool pretty much sold me on the spot.

nema pool

The location was the only thing I had reservations about. The Tenderloin is one of the sketchiest parts of the city and it’s not too far. Granted, when the worst neighbourhood is located smack dab in the center, it’s hard to avoid. Plus something tells me my big city sensibilities will keep me out of trouble.


The amenities are like nothing I’ve heard of in a Toronto rental building before. Maybe my friends aren’t fancy enough, but I haven’t even heard of some of these luxuries in condo buildings. I won’t bore you with a full list, but valet parking, salt water pool, a 7,000 square foot gym and group trips to Napa and Lac Tahoe are my favourites.

It didn’t take long for us to decide on signing a lease, and in the building’s digital style, we were able to do everything online and remotely. The woman we worked with was Kristi Locks and she made the process smooth and seamless. I couldn’t be happier! In the end, given our circumstances, it was better for us to deal with a property management company even if it meant spending a little more for peace of mind and convenience.

Can’t wait to hit the pool!

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